Why Babies Cry and How to Soothe Them
Babies cry. It’s one way they tell you they need food, warmth, or attention. But because we know a baby’s cries mean that it needs something, it can also cause us stress, concern, and frustration. Ultimately, too much crying makes us tired and frustrated. We want to explore some common reasons baby cry, baby soothing tools, and the basics of the 5 S’s.
Common Reasons Baby Cry
When babies cry, they are trying to tell us something. The most common cause of crying is because they are hungry. But, they might also cry due to overfeeding, a bloated belly, or gas. The next most common reasons babies cry is because they are tired. They might also be physically uncomfortable. If they have a dirty diaper, the poop can cause pain and burning. And if they have too much or not enough clothing, they may also cry. If you are concerned about your baby’s crying, consult your care provider.
The 5 S’s
Dr. Harvey Karp writes that babies are, in a sense, really born 3 months early. The newborn nervous system is not fully developed and unequipped to manage the external stimulus of the world outside the womb. It helps to think of doing what you can to recreate a womb-like environment during baby’s “4th trimester.” The 5 S’s are for once baby’s biological needs are met; a means of reducing external stimulus which generally results in baby calming down and falling asleep.
The 5 S’s are: Swaddle, Side-Stomach Position, Shush, Swing, and Suck. Swaddling helps babies through recreating a womb-like sensation and providing and can help them fuss less and sleep better. While babies should only sleep on their backs, you can help calm baby by holding them in Side or Stomach position. A baby is surrounded by sound in the womb, and a white noise shushing sound can help calm crying. A womb is also swinging as a pregnant person moves around, and babies are used to this motion. Finally, many babies can find calm in sucking–hence the popularity of pacifiers and thumbs with babies.
Baby Soothing Tools
There are also gadgets and tools that can help you with soothing techniques. In a recent post, we discussed the Snoo, which Dr. Karp developed as a smart bassinet to help with automatic calming through movement and noise. There are also other bassinets that offer movement as a way to soothe baby, and shushers that create the whooshing sounds baby was used to in the womb. A less high-tech way of employing one of the 5 S’s is through a pacifier (for sucking) or a swaddle cloth (just make sure you are swaddling your baby correctly).
You can learn more about baby soothing and communication techniques at our Baby 101 class.